The Kentucky Wildcats are enjoying a resurgence into the elite tier of college hoops, as they now look like a legitimate title contender.
If Kentucky is able to make a deep run in March and into the Final Four, it’s fair to assume it will require guys like Ashton Hagans and Tyler Herro continuing to up their games and play at a higher level. They’ve played great for stretches this season, and it’s safe to think they’ll have made big strides by the time the Big Dance ends.
That, in turn, should lead to their NBA stock rising enough to be first-round picks in the 2019 NBA Draft. It also sounds like that’s exactly what Kentucky is expecting, at least based on a recent report by KSR’s Jack Pilgrim.
Pilgrim reports that the expectation now is that Herro and Hagans will join PJ Washington and Keldon Johnson in entering this year’s draft. That’s probably the scenario we should all expect at this point, and if it does come to pass, it hopefully means Kentucky made it to the Final Four and may have even won the title.
This report also comes on the heels that Anthony Edwards is set to make his college decision on Monday. Initially, that seemed like bad news for Kentucky, as it’s hard to see him picking Kentucky this early if there’s still a chance Hagans and Herro are back.
But if the plan is already for them to be in the NBA next season, then it makes it easier for Edwards to pick the Wildcats now. Most of the recent mock drafts have Hagans and Herro in that late first/early second-round range.
I’d be willing to bet they’ll be projected in the first round by the time the season ends. That could also be what Kentucky is selling to Edwards as he’s set to make a decision.
I’d still guess Georgia in this recruitment, but I don’t think the issue of Herro and/or Hagans returning is an issue for Edwards anymore. If either one of those two guys returns, they’ll assume a big role alongside Tyrese Maxey and a sophomore Immanuel Quickley.